Monday, September 03, 2007

Monday word, 03 Sep 2007

Labor Day (03 Sep 2007) 1Co 3. 10-23; Ps 34; Jn 4. 34-38
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
More Than Human Labor

Sacred scripture nourishes and guides all the preaching of the church./1/ The Second Vatican Council hoped “for a new surge of spiritual vitality from the intensified veneration of” and attentiveness to God’s word/2/. Because liturgical texts draw on scripture, point to it and even quote it, the liturgical books offer preachers sources to proclaim our crucified and risen Messiah and to increase everone’s witness to him.

A line from the opening prayer of our Mass For the Blessing of Human Labor/3/ caught my attention and pulled at my heart: “May we bring the spirit of Christ to all our efforts....” How might those words help us witness more effectively to our Messiah Jesus?

Certainly, it recognizes that his spirit links us to Jesus. By robing ourselves with Jesus’ spirit, our efforts are not merely human: our efforts participate in Jesus’ work. Plus, to “bring the spirit of Christ to all our efforts” focuses them to be faithful to God’s trust in us. The opening prayer described God’s trust in us: “you have placed all the power of nature under [human] control and our work.”/4/

That is staggering trust, to say the least. When you and I fashion something with care and delight and place it in another’s control, who can deny feeling hesitant, at best, or suspiciously worried, at worst. “Will she take care of it? Will he use it with the care with which I fashioned it?” With neither hesitation nor suspicion God placed into our hands all creation! God desires us to be its steward of completion.

Jesus demonstrated while he walked the earth that this desire of his Father, who sent him, nourished him, energized him and strengthened him. Nourish, energize and strengthen are what food does, and food was the image Jesus used: My food is to do the will of the one who sent me. Staying connected with the desire of God led Jesus to complete the work of God.

Divine Jesus was also human. Thus, he enlisted and commissioned others to continue completing God’s work for as long as time continues. Today you and I share the fruits of the work of those who have preceded us, both in the gospel as well as in the world.

Our efforts will lay foundations in world-concerns for the future, and they will build upon [the gospel-foundation], namely Jesus Christ. To build on the foundation...Jesus Christ names our purpose in life: to glorify God.

Glorifying God is worthy of a divine wage, which we call salvation, that is, our participation in divine life. Our failure to glorify God is like burned up work. Yet St. Paul was optimistic that that failure alone would not jeapordize our salvation. However, repeatedly failing to glorify God shapes a trend which weakens ouir relationship with God and with others.

As Christians, then, all our labors--from home-repair to homework, from legal work to leisure activities, from life-guarding to laundry, from nursing to needlepoint, from teaching to truck-driving, from parenting to playing, from praying to promoting peace--glorify our Creator, who “placed all the power of nature under human control and our work.”

To glorify God, the owner of all, by our labors strengthens others, who serve as God’s stewards of creation. St. Paul’s final words of our first reading form no haphazard list: all belong to you; and you to Christ; and Christ to God. Far from it! Paul expressed a dynamic logic. Movement in the direction of church leaders, church members, Christ to God, suggests the order of service to the Creator and Owner of all. You and I ask God in Jesus by their Spirit to bless our labors in order that each will glorify God by completing creation more and helping one another to “bring the spirit of Christ to all our efforts.” Laboring in the spirit of Christ praises him for his trust in us, helps us stay connected with our foundation, who chooses us to help him complete the work his Father, who sent him.
/1/ Cf.
Second Vatican Council, Decree on Revelation, #21.
/2/ Ibid.,
# 26.
One of the Sacramentary’s Masses for Various Needs and Occasions, #25B.
/4/ Ibid.
Wiki-image of Ford assembly line is in the public domain. Wiki-image of Boeing 787 Rollout is used under the GNU Free Documention License.

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